For the past twenty years, my day job has involved providing legal representation to children in cases of abuse and neglect. If you must be a lawyer, this is a terrific way to go about it. My clients are regarded as having problems rather than being problems, and it’s the court’s job to solve those problems as best it can, with limited time and resources.
I go about this work as an independent contractor to the State of Maryland, and periodically, the State competes the work to ensure the taxpayers are getting the best bargain for their money. I won the contract through the competitive procurement process, and I’m prepared to lose it the same way.
Fair is fair, and twenty years is a long time to labor in any one vineyard.
And yet, there’s a part of me that thinks, “I have learned so much in the past twenty years, I’m better at this gig than I’ve ever been before. I know the players, I know the rules, I know the rhythms and rituals. I AM the best bargain for the taxpayer’s nickel, and oh, by the way, I’m a single mom with a kid still in college and could really use the steady paycheck.”
We’ll see what the universe says to that. Meanwhile, the idea that I could have a lot more unstructured time has given me an opportunity to poke my head out of my prairie dog hole, look about me, and see my immediate environment with new eyes.
New, not very impressed eyes. I’ve been living in the same small, rural house for almost twenty five years, and I’ve shared this place with one daughter, and a herd of cats, dogs, rabbits, guinea pigs, white rats, birds, fish, and once I found a possum helping himself to the dog food in the kitchen (at 3 am, oh-what-a-night). Having horses on the same property didn’t exactly contribute to a manicured look.
House beautiful, it ain’t.
If a door to the legal profession is closing, then of course, I want to write full time, but I have to ask myself: If I’m going to be working from home, how can I make this space optimally conducive to writing wonderful stories? The house itself is a 150+ year old log cabin with addition. It has character, but needs charm. My first step in the direction of preparing for a career change was to rent a roll off dumpster.
Dead clothes, ancient romance novels, defunct CD players, hamster wheels that won’t turn (note to self: excellent metaphor there), ribbons from some horse show ten years ago, broken Christmas lights… “Kill them all, Mr. Smee!”
It feels good to purge—also a little scary—but then what? How do you make the place you live more than just a long term campsite without it becoming a time and money suck too?
To one commenter below, I’ll send an audio version of Richard Armitage reading Georgette Heyer’s “The Convenient Marriage.”